Stan Shaw Engraved Pen Knife

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Stan Shaw has been making knives by hand for over 75 years. Now 90 years old, he still works in his shop two days a week making knives the traditional way, by hand. “My knives are completely processed by hand, from sawing out the blades, springs and linings, to the finished product,” he says.

Trained under Ted Osbourne, Stan learned to make multi-bladed knives using expensive materials, such as mother of pearl, tortoiseshell and ivory. As the cutlery industry declined Stan learned how to do many of the jobs that would make a knife, such as forging, grinding and hafting. Traditionally these tasks were separate subdivisions of the cutlery trade, carried out by single person. This meant that many different cutlers were involved in the making of one knife. Stan Shaw is unique because he can make a knife from start to finish on his own.

In 1983, Stan went off on his own after working for such Sheffield greats as George Wostenholm, John Watts and John Clarke. In 2009 he moved his tools and workshop to the Kelham Island Museum. Stan has a waiting list of four years for his knives, which are highly prized by collectors.

You can see more photos and information of the above pocket knife on the website

The History of George Wostenholm

The History of George Wostenholm

Along with Joseph Rodgers, George Wostenholm is possibly the most famous name in cutlery. These two, once great rival companies have sat alongside each other in The Egginton Group since 1986. Perhaps more than any other cutlery company, the history of Wostenholm is steeped in folklore.

Although Wostenholm was reputably formed in 1785, it took three generations and one name change for the company to really make a mark in Sheffield’s cutlery history. Originally the family name was spelt ‘Wolstenholme’ but, story has it that George Wostenholm the second found this name too long for smaller knives so he omitted the letters ‘l’ and ‘e’. The name has been spelt Wostenholm ever since. The second George Wostenholm also built the Rockingham Works (known locally as the Rockingham Wheel) in around 1810. Knives made in this factory and marked “Rockingham Works” are highly prized by knife collectors to this day.

In 1831, the famous I*XL trademark, which had first been registered in 1787, was assigned to Wostenholm.

It was the third George Wostenholm who ensured that this trademark became arguably the world’s most illustrious and best loved knife brand.

An ambitious industrialist and fiercely determined salesman, he came to the company’s helm in 1833. The company had already taken its first steps into the American export market as early as 1830; however, it was the third George who made numerous gruelling sales trips to America. This was at a time when the trans-Atlantic passage would take many weeks. Demand from America for superior quality cutlery was growing and George Wostenholm’s efforts had made certain that the finest cutlery of the time, his I*XL knives, were the knife of choice for Americans.

Trade flourished and in 1848 a new factory, the fabled Washington Works on Sheffield’s Wellington Street, was opened.

As the popularity of Wostenholm’s knives grew, so too did Washington Works and it soon became nearly four times its original size, employing over 800 workers.

Wostenholm was now making knives in a volume never witnessed before. It is important to note though that George ensured that quality was never sacrificed and knives continued to be made by the finest cutlers using only the best materials. For the Great Exhibition of 1851, to demonstrate the height of their craft, Wostenholm made three exquisite hunting knives from designs by noted English artist Alfred Stevens.

George Wostenholm, after having reportedly declined the position on a number of previous occasions, finally became Master Cutler 1856. He also held the office of Justice of the Peace for Sheffield. His influence on the city of Sheffield was considerable. He purchased an entire suburb of 150 acres and designing the streets to be laid out to reflect the leafy residential roads of the villages he had visited in New York State. The Sheffield road names of Wostenholm Road and Washington Road as well as Wostenholm’s huge house Kenwood Hall (now a hotel) are lasting reminders of his impact on the city.

Wostenholm’s influence on history was also felt across the Atlantic. Wostenholm had begun making hunting knives in the 1830’s.

Many of these were exported to America to keep up with demand for highly crafted knives in this incredibly turbulent time in American history.

There are two claims made about Wostenholm and the relationship with one of America’s most famous sons, legendary frontiersman Colonel James Bowie. The first claim is that Bowie ordered knives for himself and his close friends directly from Wostenholm.

The second, more famous claim is that, on March 6th 1836 when Bowie died at The Alamo while General Santa Anna’s Mexican Army attacked, a knife found on his body was one made by Wostenholms. Whether or not these stories are true is impossible to say for certain as company records from that period no longer exist, but it is nice to imagine that the paths of these two great men once crossed.

What can be said for certain is that Wostenholm’s dedication to his company and its products meant that the I*XL trademark has come to be regarded as the absolute pinnacle in knife manufacture.

Originally Published by http://www.eggintongroup.co.uk

New Article Published at SonoranDesertknives.com

One of the most well know Sheffield trade marks I*XL.
Most collectors are familiar with the cutlery made by George Wostenholm. The company was originally listed as “George Wolstenholme and Son”, the name was shorted before about 1820.

They acquired the I*XL trade mark in 1826.

Any knife bearing the I*XL trade mark must be assumed to have been made after 1826

Two early markings found on fixed blade/folding bowie knives are

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